The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 01, 2021 3:50 pm

Brian Kelly discusses departure on Dan Patrick Show

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

New LSU coach Brian Kelly, who abruptly departed from Notre Dame on Tuesday morning, spent part of his first full day at the helm of the Tigers discussing his new position and his decision to move on from Notre Dame on Dan Patrick's radio show. Here are some highlights of Kelly's remarks. 

Q: What does LSU give you that Notre Dame could not give you anymore?

Kelly: "It really didn't have anything to do with what Notre Dame couldn't give me as much as, another opportunity, another challenge. To come down to the SEC, to play in arguably the best conference in the country. The resources here are incredible. I just think another opportunity, one where you're going to be challenged week-in and week-out against the best. I was at that time in my career that I was looking for that new challenge and I'm really excited."

Q: When did you start looking for that new challenge?

Kelly: "You're so focused on your team that my focus was on my guys at Notre Dame. I don't know that there was ever a wandering eye at all, but we're curious. We're coaches. We're always looking for that next challenge. When the season was over and things started to move quickly, this opportunity presented itself and that's why we are where we are."

Q: How important was the difference in academic hurdles in recruiting between Notre Dame and LSU in your decision?

Kelly: "I think each school has distinctions. The distinctions at Notre Dame are real and they are incredible. But LSU has distinctions, as well, in terms of its geographical base, its ability to recruit the state of Louisiana, the facilities for football. I don't think it's the negative over the positive as much as – we did quite well at Notre Dame, given who Notre Dame is and the distinctions it has. We had five consecutive 10-plus win seasons. Only Alabama and Notre Dame did that. So, those distinctions were easily accomplished. That team is so good, I believe they could be in the College Football Playoff three of the last four years. Here at LSU we have other distinctions ... and those things are real, as well."

Q: Is there a tactful way to say goodbye?

Kelly: "Never. It's always difficult because things get leaked and they get out to the media before you can actually get out in front of your guys. I did the best I could, I was on the road recruiting and things got out to the media, but I was able to send a note to my guys and then get in front of them at 7 a.m. and tell them I love them. I love my guys and they know I love them and I think they're one of the best four teams in the country and they deserve to play in the College Football Playoff."

Q: Do you feel like you accomplished what you set out to accomplish at Notre Dame?

Kelly: "The charge I had was to modernize Notre Dame Football, bring it back to relevance and consistency as one of the top teams in the country and we check all those boxes. I was never going to Notre Dame to be the all-time winningest coach, that happened along the way. Our process (to winning) was about graduating champions and we did that and the outcomes were what they were. But that was never my intent, it was to modernize the football program with infrastructure and improvements. It was certainly about consistency in performance and graduating football players. All those things were accomplished.

"I didn't just wake up one day and say, 'I've done all this, it's time to move on.' But I saw (LSU) as an incredible opportunity and I'm excited about the next chapter."

Q: When was the first time LSU reached out to your representatives?

Kelly: "My agent handles all that stuff and so I couldn't tell you exactly because he doesn't keep me in the loop on all these things. He calls me when he thinks the time is right. It was after our last game (Saturday) and we struck a deal pretty quickly."

Q: Did USC reach out at any point?

Kelly: "I think there was a lot of interest from other schools, but for me, it was, 'Let's get through the season.'" Once we did, we measured what was the best situation for me."

Q: If (Notre Dame) were ranked third right now, would you still be in Louisiana?

Kelly: "I don't know, those are tough questions. I'm a pretty honest guy and I'd tell you, but those are so hard to answer, relative to would I have done something different in that situation. I really couldn't tell you because it's not the case."

Q: What's the status of your assistant coaches at Notre Dame?

Kelly: "(LSU) is going to hire the best coaches. I had great coaches at Notre Dame. We can hire great coaches at LSU. They're employed right now at Notre Dame and we have to be sensitive to that fact. Would I love some of those guys to join me here? Absolutely, but we have to go through the right process and that's going to be a fluid situation."

Q: Is that part of your exit from Notre Dame, that you can't poach assistant coaches?

Kelly: "No, no. At the end of the day, you're not going to do something that is morally or ethically not sound. You're going to work with the university you just left. But there's good coaches (at LSU) I want to talk to. There's certainly great coaches at Notre Dame, but we're going to do it the right way."

There was some discussion of Kelly's day Monday. He said he was recruiting for Notre Dame in Los Angeles, got on a flight back to South Bend and by the time he had landed he had finalized a deal to be the new coach at LSU and resigned from Notre Dame. Kelly met his agent at the Los Angeles airport for the flight back because the news of Kelly's departure had already started to leak to the public.

Q: Did you follow up with the recruits (you talked to Monday) to say, "Hey, if you're not interested in Notre Dame, you can join me at LSU."?

Kelly: "Of course not. (laughs) I'm talking to Judge Judy now."

Q: I would do that! Lincoln Riley is bringing players (to USC) who decommitted from Oklahoma.

Kelly: "Lincoln can do what he wants to do. Brian Kelly is going to do what he does."

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